There was one player who had caught everybody’s attention in the 2019 English home summer, and that was Tom Banton. He didn’t play international cricket, neither was he anywhere around the England cricket team, but Banton stood out.
In the space of just one season, he has become England’s latest batting sensation.
It was back in 2017 that Banton made his T20 debut for Somerset. A year later, he made his 50-over and first-class debut as well. But it was really the 2019 English domestic season that saw him come of age. Be it any format, Banton produced the goods and got runs consistently.
Yes, he wasn’t up to the mark in County cricket as he averaged 29.61 while amassing 533 runs in 10 games. But his white-ball form was top-notch, and he topped most batting charts.
It was the way he batted in the T20 Blast that got him all the attention. Some of the shots that he played were simply out of the world. A few of them were pure hockey-like flicks where he swept and reverse-swept fast bowlers for fun.
The Somerset opener smoked 549 runs which included four half-centuries and one hundred. He averaged 42.23 and had a strike-rate of 161.47 in that tournament.
A lot of people only noticed his exploits in the T20 Blast, but Banton is a gun 50-over player as well. He had a wonderful Royal London One-Day Cup (England’s premier domestic 50-over tournament) as well in 2019.
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Banton made 454 runs at an average of 41.27 in that tournament. During the knockout games he had scores of 112, 59 and 69 as he helped Somerset clinch the title. Clearly, Banton didn't lack in big-match temperament either.
But it was his performance in the T20 Blast that really got the world talking about him, and which led to his T20I debut and an appearance in the Big Bash League (BBL). Banton scored 233 runs at a strike-rate of 176.98 in Australia’s premier T20 tournament as he featured in seven games for the Brisbane Heat.
Banton also made his ODI debut in South Africa where he made 32 and 18 in the two innings that the batted. He is currently playing in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) for the Peshawar Zalmi.
After this, Banton is going to travel to India for the first time as he will be a part of the Indian Premier League (IPL). It was a slight surprise when only Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) bid for him and pouched him for his base price of INR 1 crore.
The opening batsman can make his bat do the talking and create a huge impact at the top of the order. He is someone who can go berserk right from the start and take the game by the scruff of the neck.
KKR will be looking to him (if he gets a chance in the XI, which he should at least in a few games) to give them brisk starts. And he may well form a formidable opening pair alongside Shubman Gill.
Moreover, there have been a lot of Kevin Pietersen and Jos Buttler comparisons as well for the way Banton bats. Some of the shots that he plays liken him to Pietersen quite a bit, while his unorthodox batting earned him the Buttler parallels.
From topping the batting charts in the 2019 T20 Blast to going on to play most T20 leagues around the world to making his white-ball debuts for England, it’s been a whirlwind 2019 and 2020 so far for the Somerset lad. Banton is one of the most attractive players in world cricket at the moment and is all set to make his presence felt in the IPL as well.
The pitch at the Eden Gardens is likely to be his friend, as the ball comes on to the bat nicely. He can play on the up and go through the line as well.
Watch out for Banton this season; he is one of the upcoming stars in world cricket and will look to leave a mark in his debut IPL season.Published 08 Mar 2020, 10:00 IST